Top London wine bars as chosen by the experts – updated
Who better to ask where to wine and dine in London than vinous and culinary experts? These are the London wine bars and restaurants that our Decanter World Wine Awards judges visit when they’re in town.
Updated in August 2018 with extra recommendations from Fiona Beckett, based on her wine lover’s guide to London in the September 2018 issue of Decanter magazine.
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In a hurry? Here are six London wine bars not to miss
- Sager & Wilde
- The 10 Cases
- Bar Douro
- Social Wine & Tapas
Sager + Wilde is the top wine bar in East London. It has a great selection of wines from all over the world with nibbles to match and lots of bargains to boot. Andrea Briccarello
Longing for a greater selection of wine bars to include an ever changing selection of wines by the glass, Sager + Wilde manage to provide just this. Informative, relaxed staff provide insight to an outstanding wine list showcasing some amazing producers, there is certainly a discovery or two to be made here. As for their food offering, they manage to tick every box. Melanie Brown
I love Michael’s massively engaged enthusiasm at Sager + Wilde, the range is full of wines that I am always interested in drinking, with a common theme of elegance tying them all together. They are so reasonably priced that I always end up spending 3-4 bottles there rather than one, with friends of course. Sager + Wilde brought some much needed fun to wine drinking in London – it reminds me of drinking in great wine bars in Melbourne. It’s almost impossible to go there and not run into someone from the wine trade. Get there early and prepare for a long evening. Justin Knock MW
Another great place for the wine selection and the low mark up is Sager + Wilde (previously known as Mission) in Bethnal green. It’s often a place I end up with my team. Also, the fact that they’re open on Sundays is a bonus. Laure Patry
This small but stylish East London wine bar has a vaguely louche feel that seems to bring out the hedonistic pleasure in the wines. The list is exceptional and the mark-ups are small. Matt Walls
193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL
+44 (0) 20 8127 7330
If I fancy a glass of something interesting in a laid back, cosy atmosphere, then The 10 Cases in Covent Garden is perfect. The wine list always has plenty to tempt me and the food is delicious but unfussy. Mark Andrew
The 10 Cases must be one of my most regular haunts. Ideally located near Covent Garden, it has an ever-changing wine list (they only ever buy ten cases of each wine), a choice of tapas-style food as well as main dishes, plus a bottle shop next door with informal dining and a handy function room in the basement. Richard Hemming MW
The 10 cases has a great selection of wines. It’s a very honest place run by passionate people – we need more of this format in London. Xavier Rousset MS
16 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BD
+44 (0) 20 7836 6801
Walking under the arches in The Winemakers Club is like stepping back in time. It has the feel of a private club but without the stuffiness and membership fees. John, the brains behind the concept, has listed some gems from unusual parts of the world – think Hungary, Slovenia, even Poland – but you’ll also find classic Claret at bargain prices. Christelle Guibert
The Winemakers Club is a wineshop cum wine bar. A great place to hang out after work with a plate of cheese and charcuterie. Boasting a wonderfully eclectic selection of natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Isabelle Legeron MW
The Winemakers Club a self-proclaimed ‘wine pub’, this authentically dank cellar in a railway arch near the City is home to a wine importer with a taste for unusual organic and biodynamic wines. Plenty to explore by the taste, glass or bottle. Matt Walls
41a Farringdon Street, EC4A 4AN
+44 (0) 20 7236 2936
Noble Rot have built a well-deserved reputation for serving great wines at low mark-ups, and their new wine bar is a superb showcase for their easy going, informal attitude. Richard Hemming MW
Noble Rot is a London-based wine and lifestyle magazine that has recently hatched a wine bar and restaurant. It has rapidly become a honeypot for wine lovers: not just a great wine list, but skilfully-prepared British food and knowledgeable staff. Matt Walls
51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB
+44 (0) 20 7242 8963
10 Greek St does really good food and the wine list is very well priced. Luke Wilson, the owner, keeps a little black book of the good stuff, with very encouraging cash margins! Gearoid Devaney MS
10 Greek street has a small but well-designed and perfectly executed menu, along with well-chosen wines at great prices. Xavier Rousset MS
10 Greek Street, W1D 4DH
+44 (0) 20 7734 4677
I love Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels for casual, chic drinking in Neal’s Yard. Julia is a really smart sommelier and she always chooses something for me blind which is handy because the wine selection is so well thought out that I never know what to order. I like her mystery wine by the glass; it is a fun, entertaining feature. Claire Thevenot MS
I love the ambiance at the Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels This is a great place to enjoy some very good wines. There is a thoughtful selection by the glass as well as a comprehensive list which has something for every palate. The service is friendly, but expect some strong French accents! For my money the best Cassoulet in town. Nicolas Clerc MS
8-10 Neal’s Yard, WC2H 9DP
+44 (0) 20 7734 7737
The Remedy gets just about everything perfect: loads of interesting wines by the glass (especially old Madeira), delicious sharing plates and a relaxed, low-key atmosphere. Richard Hemming MW
Small, relaxed, informal and convivial, The Remedy is a great little wine bar a short walk from Oxford Street. They have a superlative collection of mostly European wines, many with a nod towards the natural. They’ll happily pour you half a bottle of any of their top-end wines for half the price. Matt Walls
124 Cleveland Street, W1T 6PG
+44 (0) 20 3489 3800
For a guilty pleasure, the range of wines by the glass at 67 Pall Mall with Coravin is hard to resist with some iconic wines from older vintages available… need I say more? Gearoid Devaney MS
67 Pall Mall is the ultimate wine lover’s destination, with an extraordinary array of choice served by Coravin and a fixed corkage charge of £20. The food isn’t cheap but it is classic and expertly prepared. The only disadvantage is you need to be a member! Richard Hemming MW
67 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5ES
+44 (0) 20 3000 6767
For casual dining, my first choice would have to be Terroirs for the simplicity of the food (think cheese, charcuterie and classic French bistro food) but mostly for the wine. I also like the easy-going atmosphere. It’s definitely good value with many small growers and older vintages availed at affordable prices. Laure Patry
5 William IV Street, WC2N 4DW
+44 (0) 20 7036 0660
When I’m feeling carnivorous, The Quality Chop House in Farringdon is a must visit. The building oozes character and the food just gets better and better – it is genuinely one of London’s most consistent restaurants. Mark Andrew
88-94 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3EA
+44 (0)20 7278 1452
I love going to Social Wine & Tapas for the veal burgers and the great wine recommendations from Laure Patry and her team. Geroid Devaney MS
39 James Street, W1U 1DL
+44 (0) 20 7993 3257
Donostia in Seymour St is becoming our convenient lunchtime meeting restaurant of choice in Marylebone. It was here that I first had the aged Galician beef that Donostia and sister restaurant Lurra are now championing to great effect. The wine list is neat and tidy with both classic names and delicious value wines out of Catalonia and Basque country too. Justin Knock MW
40 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA
+44 (0) 20 7237 9247
José on Bermondsey St – it’s busy, crowded but it all happens super-fast in José. Even when they’re flat out, it’s often possible to walk in, squeeze in on a counter and grab a chilled half bottle of fresh Manzanilla while you wait for the wonderful tapas. They do the basics so well – Tortilla, Jamon Iberico and Croquetas are amongst the best in London. It’s the ideal place for a 30 minute refuelling stop. Justin Knock MW
104 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB
Medlar has quickly become an institution among wine merchants. The classical, stylish and wine-friendly food is fantastic and the wine service, overseen by MS Christophe Delalonde is as slick and attentive as the glassware is perfect. It’s almost embarrassing how often we’re there! Greg Sherwood MW
438 Kings Road, SW10 0LJ
+44 (0) 20 7349 1900
Blanchette in Soho is where I go for the ambiance and to relax. One of the owners is a DJ so the music is really good. They do French food well and you can’t beat their frogs legs with a crisp Alsace Pinot Blanc. The wine list is small but well choosen by Max and Yannis. Claire Thevenot MS
9 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8DR
+44 (0)207 439 8100
One of my old favourites is Elliot’s Café in Borough market. It’s a short stroll from Decanter HQ and offers fantastic tapas. The wine list has been put together by Isabelle Legeron MW, the queen of natural wine, so expect some quirky but exciting wines. The atmosphere is laid back and just what you want after a long day at the office. Christelle Guibert
12 Stoney St, Borough Market, SE1 9AD
+44 (0) 20 7403 7436
The eccentric but utterly charming Otto’s on Grays Inn Road does classic, old school French cooking as well as anywhere in London, with a superb and well-priced wine list to boot. Mark Andrew
182 Gray’s Inn Road, WC1X 8EW
020 7713 0107
The Clove Club is my fine dining choice: top cooking and a great atmosphere. I really like the overall approach to food and wine. Xavier Rousset MS
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT
+44 (0) 20 7729 6496
Taberna do Mercado, Nuno Mendes’ small Portuguese restaurant in Old Spitalfields Market, is a busy place, particularly at weekends. The food is simple but brilliantly executed with plenty of local and hearty dishes to share. The pão de ló dessert is a must, worth a daily visit in itself! The wine list is well selected and precise, covering all styles from Portugal, matchs the food selection well and is fairly priced. Nicolas Clerc MS
Old Spitalfields Market, 107b Commercial Street, E1 6BG
+44 (0) 20 7375 0649
Few restaurants come close to offering the consistent quality of Chez Bruce. An institution among the locals, it is certainly worth the journey to Wandsworth Common. Once again the wine service is impeccable and the glassware excellent. It’s probably the most consistently enjoyable wining and dining experience in London at the price – even we poor wine merchants can afford it! Greg Sherwood MW
2 Bellevue Road, SW17 7EG
+44 (0)20 8672 0114
Primeur is a new discovery for me. It’s off the beaten track being a 15-minute walk from the nearest station, but it is worth the detour. The tapas-style food is France meets Italy meets Great Britain and there’s a large selection of wines by the glass. They are all from artisan producers with a minimal-intervention mentality, but fear not, the staff will happily give you a taste before you commit. Christelle Guibert
Barnes Motors, 116 Petherton Road London, N5 2RT
+44 (0) 20 7226 5271
In my opinion Andrew Edmunds is London’s best kept secret: rustic food accompanied by top wines from Burgundy as well as new World wines, sold with very little mark up. There are often real gems to be found. Andrea Briccarello
See our full review of Andrew Edmunds restaurant here
46 Lexington Street, W1F 0LP
+44 (0) 20 7437 5708
The Crooked Billet, Wimbledon is a charming pub on the edge of Wimbledon village. The shabby-chic décor and enormous fireplace will put you at ease straight away. The food is simple but well executed and despite the busy nature of the place, the service is efficient and friendly. The wine list is mainstream but pleasant and the mark-up is reasonable considering the area. It’s a real urban village gem and, for you canine lovers, it’s a hot spot for speed dating, doggy-style! David Vareille
14-15 Crooked Billet, Wimbledon, SW19 4RQ
+44 (0) 20 8946 4942
Casa Malevo at 23 Connaught Street is the best Argentinian restaurant in London. It’s a small and charming place with very friendly service and fantastic food. On the minus side, you might bump into Tony Blair. Igor Sotric
23 Connaught Street, W2 2AY
+44 (0) 20 7402 1988
Corner Kitchen is a newly-opened, delicious pizzeria in my neck of the woods in Forest Gate. Friendly, low-key and focused on great ingredients, with a small, interesting, organic and biodynamic wine list. Isabelle Legeron MW
58 Woodgrange Road, Forest Gate, E7 0QH
020 8555 8068
The Glasshouse in Kew is a fantastic West London restaurant that thrills locals and travelling gourmands alike. There is a well-selected list or, for a modest corkage charge you can BYO by prior arrangement. The Michelin-starred food is pure and unfussy but of Mayfair quality and the service is second to none. It’s one of my preferred spots for lingering wine trade lunches. Greg Sherwood MW
14 Station Parade, Kew, TW9 3PZ
+44 (0) 20 8940 6777
Fera at Claridge’s is my top dining destination of 2015. The service is exemplary and genuine and the team is really enthusiastic about what they do. As with many restaurants in London, the lunch menu is a steal. They are championing artisan wines which mean that I always discover something new with Raphael and his passionate team of sommeliers. Claire Thevenot MS
Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR
+44 (0) 20 7107 8888
Effortlessly managing to combine innovative food, exceptional ingredients and an extensive natural wine selection, this hidden secret, Naughty Piglets in Brixton Water is perfect any night of the week. Melanie Brown
28 Brixton Water Lane, SW2 1PE
+44 (0) 20 7274 7796
The Typing Room is my guilty pleasure. Open your mind and go and experience one of the most talented young chefs I have ever met. You’ll find it’s like going to one of the best-rated restaurants but without the premium. The food is exciting, intelligent, ethical and exquisite and the wine list follows the nature of the restaurant – not everyone’s cup of tea but plenty of exciting discoveries. David Vareille
Town Hall Hotel, Patriot Square, E2 9NF
+44 (0)20 7871 0461
Ninth offers very good value for Central London. I love Jun Tanaka’s food; the service is great and the wines are well looked after by Cyril Baligand. Geroid Devaney
22 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NB
+44 (0) 20 3019 0880
The Dairy in Clapham is, for me, the best choice when it comes to food: amazing flavours and textures combine with intensity. There’s an ever-exciting tasting menu with plenty of dishes to please all palates. The wine list is compact but offers variety. Andrea Briccarello
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town, SW4 0HY
+44 (0) 20 7622 4165
brilliant corners is one of my favourites spots in London! Simple, affordable Japanese-inspired menu with great sushi. They do low-margins on a well-curated, natural wine list. Isabelle Legeron MW
470 Kingsland Road, E8 4AE
+44 (0) 20 7812 9511
The Ledbury and River Café are the best restaurants in London! I love them both because, apart from great food and service, they really pay attention to their wines and also let you bring your own. I’ve been on a few legendary wine lunches at both places. Last time I went to River Café, I had a gnocchi dish that was so delicious I nearly cried. It looked so simple; I thought I could make it at home. Hmm. Igor Sotric
127 Ledbury Road, Nottinghill, W11 2AQ
+44 (0) 20 7792 9090
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
+44 (0)20 7386 4200
The Rose Public House is a little bit of France in the shadows of the Shard. Classic, simple, delicious food – probably one of the best value for money places in London. Its craft beer selection is extensive and wine lovers will appreciate the small but bang-on wine list. Importantly, you can BYO – dog, that is. David Vareille
123 Snowfields, SE1 3ST
+44 (0) 20 7403 0168
Salon in Brixton has recently re-vamped to incorporate the wine shop that had been next door for many years, to now be a wine shop, bar and restaurant.
You can eat either in the restaurant or the wine store part, where they charge no corkage for wines bought there. They also offer no corkage for weekday lunchtimes and all day Sunday.
In the wine store, wines are organised according to style, as opposed to region, and they have a selection marked up for food-pairing with different cuisines (Thai, Moroccan, Indian etc.), making it easy to choose a bottle when dining in one of the many BYOs in Brixton market.
Some excellent food on offer – but the must-try is the n’duja croquettes with garlic aioli. Ellie Douglas.
20 Market Row, Brixton, London SW9 8LD
020 7501 9152
The biggest and most spectacular wine venue in town, rumoured to have cost in the region of £20m, with three floors of dining and drinking space: fine dining Above, which serves tasting menus; Ground (à la carte); and Below wine bar – though ‘bar’ is a bit of an understatement.
The ambitious cooking is masterminded by Ollie Dabbous, who gained great acclaim and a Michelin star for his eponymous restaurant Dabbous. In addition to the 450-strong wine list, diners have access (via iPad) to the 6,500 bottles at the Russian owners’ nearby wine shop Hedonism – they can apparently be whisked from the shop to the restaurant in 12 minutes.
Don’t miss: the £42 set lunch – much cheaper than dinner. Fiona Beckett
See our full review of Hide restaurant here
85 Piccadilly, W1J 7NB
020 3146 8666
Another Hackney hangout, this is the latest opening from the team behind the much-hyped P Franco, who have taken the premises formally occupied by Ellory, whose brigade has moved on to Leroy. It ticks all the usual East London boxes – cool, minimalist decor, natural wine list (with a good selection by the glass), simple Britalian food, but all delivered with flair and great affability.
Pastas are a feature, thanks to joint head chef Sardinia-born Giuseppe Belvedere, who previously worked with Ed Wilson at Brawn; you can detect his influence in the cooking too. Carnivores will be relieved to learn there’s a fair amount of pork (not many concessions to vegans here).
Don’t miss: the pork chop with capers. Fiona Beckett
1 Westgate Street, E8 3RL
020 3095 9407
Open slightly longer than some of the others on this list, but still a relatively new name. Given its location in the people’s republic of Hackney, they couldn’t really go wrong.
With a casual, bistro-style restaurant upstairs and a wine shop downstairs, it caters for locals as well as wine lovers intrepid enough to make the journey across town – including chefs, for whom they turn the restaurant into a late-night Chinese. The rest of the time, the menu is the ubiquitous small plates.
The 300-bin wine list is in the capable hands of the restaurant owner and super-somm Charlie Mellor, who used to work at Bottle Apostle and very capably runs the front of house.
Don’t miss: the larb-stuffed olives. Fiona Beckett
See our full review of The Laughing Heart restaurant here
277 Hackney Road, E2 8NA
020 7686 9535
One of the few places that genuinely qualifies as a wine bar, you’ll find this congenial little blue-and-white-tiled Portuguese joint in Flat Iron square, not far from Borough Market. It follows on from a successful pop-up and series of supper clubs run by Max Graham of the Churchill family, who owns the new permanent premises.
Despite the name, the all-Portuguese wine list extends well beyond the Douro region with bottles and vintages you’d be lucky to find elsewhere. Winemakers visit regularly, so get on the mailing list for winemaker dinners. The food is authentically Portuguese, with some of the best, most meltingly tender octopus I’ve eaten. The set lunch is a bargain at £9.50 for two courses. Altogether charming.
Don’t miss: the white Port and tonic. Fiona Beckett
Arch 35b Flat Iron Square, Union Street, SE1 1TD
020 7378 0524
The name Brat doesn’t refer to the mild-mannered chef Tomos Parry as you might expect from Shoreditch, but to the restaurant’s signature dish of a whole turbot, which is cooked in the wood-fired oven. Other cheaper options (the brat is £55 upwards but designed for sharing) are grilled over open coals – fire is so 2018, don’t you know?
The intelligent wine list – divided into Easy Drinkers, Classics and Off the Beaten Track – has been compiled with the help of wine bar royalty Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew of Noble Rot.
Great interior, bustling, congenial with long shared tables – maybe not the place for a romantic evening, but a great place to eat on your own at the bar or to hang out with friends.
Don’t miss: the turbot, obviously. Fiona Beckett
4 Redchurch St, E1 6JL
It was a bit of a relief to discover Rosso – there’s not much else going on in West London. Don’t be put off by the slightly bling decor – it looks a bit like a hotel bar, but it’s run by Italians who import most of the wine themselves, including less-familiar
denominations such as Valtellina and Monferrato. They also have a longer list of iconic wines including the best-known SuperTuscans.
Generously sized ‘taglieri’ meat and cheese selections are themed to go with specific wines and are easily generous enough for two. Other dishes, including pasta, thoughtfully come in small, medium and large-sized portions.
Don’t miss: the salumi, also imported from Italy. Fiona Beckett
280 Kensington High Street, W8 6ND
The area around Old Street to the west of Shoreditch is definitely on the up, which may be why the team behind Ellory (of which Leroy is an approximate anagram) have emigrated here, serving slightly more casual food than they did in their previous restaurant where they picked up a Michelin star.
Yes, small plates, but also more substantial dishes such as whole lemon sole and steak béarnaise. They’re also involved in their own wine project in Campania, Italy along with fellow restaurateurs Stevie Parle, Jackson Boxer of nearby St Leonards and Michael Sager of Sager & Wilde. You can taste their first wine under the Vigneti Tardis label, a skin-contact Fiano, along with a strong list of grower Champagnes.
Don’t miss: the skin-contact Vigneti Tardis Fiano. Fiona Beckett
18 Phipp Street, EC2A 4NU
020 7739 4443
The baroque Principal hotel is an unlikely location for a restaurant with a natural wine list, even if it’s one curated by the queen bee of natural wine, Isabelle Legeron MW – though when you discover the team behind it (Brett Redman and Margaret Crow) previously ran a restaurant in Hackney, it all makes sense.
It’s definitely a see-and-be-seen sort of destination – think a small-scale Parisian-style brasserie. You may want to focus on the ‘Island’ whites, as oysters and seafood platters are the big attraction (although bizarrely off the menu the night we visited shortly after opening). British caviar and waffles are also a draw.
Don’t miss: smoked eel chowder with curry butter. Fiona Beckett
Corner of Guildford Street and Russell Square, WC1B 5BE
020 7520 1806
Owned by Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos of the Margaux family, Clarette, which occupies a multi-storey townhouse in Marylebone, is by no means your average wine bar – it’s more, with its delicate pastels and period furniture, like a chic Parisian boutique hotel. And they don’t encourage walk-ins. But situated just a few paces from Marylebone High Street, it’s a welcome refuge for weary shoppers, with a good selection by the glass and some great wine flights – including a Margaux Discovery at £65 for three wines, including the 2004 vintage of Château Margaux. Although you might also want a glass of Champagne to accompany the beignets (one of an unusually good selection of bar snacks).
Don’t miss: the swoon-worthy Comté and truffle beignets. Fiona Beckett
44 Blandford Street, W1U 7HS
020 3019 7750
Natural wine sceptics will be relieved to hear that St Leonards (also off Old Street) is one of the few new places that doesn’t have an all-natural wine list. Co-owner Jackson Boxer, who also owns Brunswick House, is one of the rare chefs who’s really into wine and along with sommelier Donald Edwards is building what looks likely to be an exciting list – a selection of vins jaunes by the glass is a statement of intent.
Food has the wow-factor too, with a raw bar and an open hearth operated by the heavily bearded and tattooed (of course) Andrew Clarke. Along with Brat, likely to be the one of the big hits of 2018 – London’s answer to Joe Beef.
Don’t miss : the oysters, Dexter bavette with cured bone marrow and the fig-baked potatoes. Fiona Beckett
70 Leonard Street, EC2A 4QX
020 7739 1291
How we put the list together, and why
Words by Christelle Guibert
It is a privilege to live in London. We Londoners have so many vinous and gastronomic delights on our doorstep. But when I first moved to London 20 years ago from my native France it was a different story. If you wanted a nice glass of wine with great food, your only option was a formal dining restaurant with starched tablecloths and snooty waiters.
Don’t get me wrong, some were great and many continue to set the culinary standard, but these were places to blow your bank balance in a single sitting.
The move towards great wine with a casual dining experience probably started with Les Caves de Pyrene’s opening of Terroirs during the recession of 2008. Xavier Rousset MS followed suit in 2010 with his 28-50 Wine & Kitchen Workshops. Since then there has been a proliferation of similar establishments, with a new place popping up almost every month, if not every fortnight.
With so many good wine bars opening it is hard to keep up. So I asked Decanter World Wine Awards judges, Master Sommeliers and wine experts in the capital to nominate the bars and restaurants where they like to hang out after work. After all, they are the best people to ask.
Whether you live in London or are just visiting, you can find somewhere wonderful to wine and dine from Brixton and Clapham in the south, to Hackney and Shoreditch in the east, to Wimbledon and Kew in the suburbs – not to mention Central London. There is a little gem to discover near you. Who knows, you may bump into one of our experts!